Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential. By Claes Lykke Ragner

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1 Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential By Claes Lykke Ragner FNI Report 13/2000

2 FRIDTJOF NANSENS INSTITUTT THE FRIDTJOF NANSEN INSTITUTE Tittel/Title Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential Publikasjonstype/Publication Type FNI Report Forfatter(e)/Author(s) Claes Lykke Ragner Program/Programme Prosjekt/Project Sider/Pages 124 Nummer/Number 13/2000 ISBN ISSN Sammendrag/Abstract The report assesses the Northern Sea Route s commercial potential and economic importance, both as a transit route between Europe and Asia, and as an export route for oil, gas and other natural resources in the Russian Arctic. First, it conducts a survey of past and present Northern Sea Route (NSR) cargo flows. Then follow discussions of the route s commercial potential as a transit route, as well as of its economic importance and relevance for each of the Russian Arctic regions. These discussions are summarized by estimates of what types and volumes of NSR cargoes that can realistically be expected in the period This is then followed by a survey of the status quo of the NSR infrastructure (above all the ice-breakers, ice-class cargo vessels and ports), with estimates of its future capacity. Based on the estimated future NSR cargo potential, future NSR infrastructure requirements are calculated and compared with the estimated capacity in order to identify the main, future infrastructure bottlenecks for NSR operations. The information presented in the report is mainly compiled from data and research results that were published through the International Northern Sea Route Programme (INSROP) , but considerable updates have been made using recent information, statistics and analyses from various sources. Stikkord/Key Words Northern Sea Route, Russia, Arctic, shipping Bestilling til/orders to: Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Postboks 326, N-1326 Lysaker, Norway. Tel: (47) Fax: (47)

3 Preface The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is the Russian name for what is often known outside Russia as the Northeast Passage (NEP). In Europe, the term Northeast Passage has for centuries nurtured visions that have never completely died out of an adventurous shortcut that may bring about a revolution in sea trade between Europe and East Asia. In Russia, the term Northern Sea Route holds different connotations, and mainly evokes visions of a grand national waterway, created by the efforts of the Russian people, and mainly an internal transport corridor for bringing natural resources out, and for bringing deliveries in to the many settlements in the Russian Arctic. The Russian emphasis on the route s internal character is further seen from the formal Russian definition, by which the NSR is strictly confined by the Novaya Zemlya islands in the west and the Bering Strait in the east. This report tries to assess the sea route s commercial potential and economic importance. It does so by first making a survey of past and present Northern Sea Route (NSR) cargo flows. The route s economic potential and importance, both as an international transit route and as a transport corridor to and from the Russian Arctic regions, is then discussed, before forwarding estimates of future cargo potential. An overview of the status quo of the NSR infrastructure (above all the ice-breakers, ice-class cargo vessels and ports) is also made, with estimates of its future capacity. Based on the estimated future cargo potential, future infrastructure requirements are calculated and compared with the estimated capacity in order to identify possible future bottlenecks for NSR operations. A large portion of the information presented in this report is compiled from data and research results that were published through the International Northern Sea Route Programme (INSROP) The establishment of INSROP was brought about by the formal opening of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) to non-russian vessels in 1991, and was a multidisciplinary, international research programme with the aim of investigating all relevant aspects and consequences of international shipping on the NSR. The programme involved more than 450 researchers from 14 countries, approximately half of them from Russia. The INSROP data has been updated and supplemented by data and analyses from various sources the most important ones being the NSR User Conference in Oslo November 1999, and a report commissioned by the EU body Tacis in 2000 to identify the Northern Sea Route s infrastructure bottlenecks. This author is most indebted both to the many INSROP scientists who have provided much of the baseline data, as well as the Russian and Dutch scientists that participated in the Tacis project.

4 Table of Contents 1 The Northern Sea Route - Introduction and Basic Features Why make commercial studies of the Northern Sea Route? Historic development of the Northern Sea Route Definition of the study area Legal, administrative and operational framework of NSR shipping The physical environment of NSR shipping Shallow seas Ice conditions Climatic change Historic and Actual NSR Freight Flows Transport directions Cabotage import from other regions of Russia Cabotage export to other regions of Russia Intra-Arctic cabotage Foreign import Foreign export Transit Eastern NSR vs. western NSR NSR commodities Hydrocarbons Non-ferrous metals and ores Timber and wood products Dry cargo and fuel provisions to Arctic settlements Materials for oil/gas development Coal Passenger transport Conclusions Transit Traffic Potential Transit cargo potential Ferrous metals Fertilisers Nuclear fuel Cargoes not suitable for NSR transit Conclusions transit cargo potential Basic factors for commercial NSR transit traffic NSR tariffs NSR ice-insurance premiums Vessel size Construction costs Cost comparison for NSR-Suez transit shipping Results Possible remedies Conclusions The NSR s Significance for the Economic Development of the Russian Arctic Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Geography and infrastructure Probable future cargoes Less probable cargo sources What difference can the NSR make for Chukotka A.O.? Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Geography and infrastructure...39

5 4.2.2 Probable future NSR cargoes Less probable cargo sources What difference can the NSR make for the Republic of Sakha? Krasnoyarsk Kray (including Taymyr Autonomous Okrug) Geography and infrastructure Probable future cargoes Less probable cargo sources What difference can the NSR make for Krasnoyarsk Kray? Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Geography and infrastructure Probable, future cargoes Less probable cargo sources What difference can the NSR make for Yamalo-Nenets A.O.? Nenets Autonomous Okrug Geography and infrastructure Probable, future cargoes What difference can the NSR make for Nenets A.O.? Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblasti Conclusions Forecasting of Future NSR Cargo Flows, Hydrocarbons Non-ferrous metals and ores Timber and wood products Provisions and fuel to Arctic settlements Materials for oil and gas development Coal Transit cargoes Conclusion The NSR Infrastructure: Status, Outlook and Future Requirements The NSR cargo fleet The shipping companies Present state The future The ice-breakers Existing fleet Future available fleet Future required fleet Conclusions NSR seaports Murmansk Arkhangelsk Amderma Kharasavey Novyy Port Yamburg Dikson Dudinka Igarka Khatanga Tiksi Zelëny Mys Pevek Mys Shmidta Provideniya Other ports Conclusions / future development...88

6 6.4 Ice-information and ice-forecasting Satellite monitoring Communication and navigational aids Satellite communication Radio communication Pilotage Nautical charts NSR Navigation guide Coastal navigation aids Satellite navigation Accident preparedness: search & rescue, repair facilities Search & rescue operations Ship repair facilities Conclusion search & rescue Conclusion: What are the NSR infrastructure bottlenecks? Overall Conclusions Annex A: Detailed NSR Cargo Statistics A1: Cargo Transport by Sea Vessels in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Northern Chukotka (thousand tons) A2: Northern Sea Route Cargo Statistics Annex B:Overview of the Northern Sea Route Cargo Fleet B1: Principal Particulars for Main Classes of High Ice-Class (ULA or UL) Vessels Operating on the NSR B2: Overview of the NSR Dry Cargo Fleet of the Norilsk (SA-15), Dmitriy Donskoy, and Mikhail Strekalovskiy Classes Annex C: Analysis of Future Need for NSR Cargo Vessels C1: Analysis of Future Need for NSR Tankers C2: Analysis of Future Need for Specialized Cargo Vessels for the Transport of Nuclear Cargoes on the NSR Annex D: Analysis of Future Need for Ice-Breakers on the NSR

7 Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential 1 1 The Northern Sea Route - Introduction and Basic Features 1.1 Why make commercial studies of the Northern Sea Route? The first and most obvious answer to this question is the great savings in distance and thus potentially also in time and expenses that the route can offer for shipping between Northwest Europe and Northeast Asia/Northwest America. For some destinations, distance savings can be as high as 50% compared to the shipping lanes presently used. Some examples are showed below in table 1.1: Table 1.1: Alternative Shipping Routes to Ports in the Pacific and Atlantic, in nautical miles 1 From Hamburg to: Shipping routes via: Vancouver Yokohama Hong Kong Singapore NSR Suez Canal Cape of Good Hope Panama Canal Distance savings would be even greater for traffic between ports in Northern Europe (e.g. Norway and the Russian Kola Peninsula) and in the Northern Pacific area (e.g. Alaska). Another answer and maybe a more important one in commercial terms is that the Northern Sea Route (NSR) may be a very convenient export corridor for Russian natural resources. Enormous reserves of various metals, oil, gas, timber and coal are located close to the shores of the Russian Arctic Ocean or along the rivers that flow into it. The transport of non-ferrous metals, timber and coal has been important in the past oil and possibly gas seems likely to become cargoes for the not-so-distant future. The third and final answer to the question is that it is now finally possible again to use the Northeast Passage. During the Soviet era, the Russian Arctic Ocean was in practical terms closed to foreign shipping. This all changed in 1991, when the Soviet Union formally openedup the NSR to foreign vessels. During the years when the NSR was inaccessible to outsiders, huge progress in ice-breaking technology has been made, and the trend of global warming has accelerated, justifying a new, thorough investigation into the commercial merits of the NSR. 1.2 Historic development of the Northern Sea Route 2 As European colonial powers expanded their empires and trading routes into East Asia in the 16 th Century, the search for alternative, shorter seaways to Asia began in earnest. Several expeditions mainly organized by Great Britain and the Netherlands were sent out to the Russian Arctic to search for the route which is now known as the Northeast Passage (NEP). 1 2 Yuri Ivanov & Alexander Ushakov (1992): The Northern Sea Route Now Open, International Challenges, vol. 12, no. 1, p. 19. For a more detailed overview of NSR history, see for instance W. Østreng (1999): Historical and Geopolitical Context of the Northern Sea Route in W. Østreng (ed.): The Natural and Societal Challenges of the Northern Sea Route. A Reference Work. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

8 2 Claes Lykke Ragner These expeditions managed to map much if the western part of the NEP, but were all either wrecked or forced to return by the difficult ice conditions. Thus, it was not until 1879 that the NEP was conquered, when the Finnish-Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld reached the Bering Strait after having carried out a full passage from Europe, spending one winter along the way. Prior to Nordenskiöld, the Arctic shores of the Eurasian continent had already been mapped by Russian expeditions that entered the Arctic Sea by descending the great Siberian rivers such as the Ob, Yenisey, Lena and Kolyma. These Russian expeditions were not primarily organized to find a transit route, but were motivated mainly by Russian desire to extend its sovereignty further to the east and north, and to expand the profitable fur trade with local, indigenous peoples. While Nordenskiöld s passage trough the NEP was a great historic achievement, it was not to have any major impact on world trade patterns. In spite of his success, it was obvious that the ice conditions posed too large an obstacle to sustain commercial transit passages. The relevance of the NEP as an international waterway was further diminished after the Russian Revolution in 1917, after which the route became practically inaccessible to non- Soviet vessels. From this time on and especially from the 1930s the Soviet Union gradually developed the Northern Sea Route as an internal, Russian waterway, in support of the industrial development of its Arctic resources. Industries were established in Igarka, Norilsk, Khatanga and in other areas, largely by the use of forced labour, and port facilities were constructed. In 1932, a large bureaucracy the Glavsevmorput was established to administer not only the Northern Sea Route, but all economic activities in the Russian Arctic. The Northern Sea Route was an important, integrated part of the Russian Arctic infrastructure and was used for deliveries to the many indigenous, industrial, military and scientific settlements in the Arctic, as well as an export route for timber, ores and other products. Since the 1970s, the NSR has also been used as an important supply line for the development of the oil and gas industry in NW Siberia. NSR activity was at its peak in 1987 when 6.6 million tons of cargo was transported on the route. In this year the Soviet President Gorbachev for the first time proposed to open up the NSR to non-soviet vessels, an initiative which was followed-up by the formal opening of the NSR to foreign vessels on 1 July Definition of the study area First, a distinction should be made between the Northern Sea Route and the Northeast Passage. The Northeast Passage (NEP) is a historic term for the transit route north of Russia linking together the Northern Atlantic and Northern Pacific Oceans. It is a somewhat abstract term without strictly defined borders or end-points. On the other hand, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) which is the term used by Russia is a clearly defined entity: According to official Russian definition, it stretches from the Novaya Zemlya islands in the west to the Bering Strait in the east (see figure 1.1). Secondly, the NSR can not be thought of as one clearly defined linear route, but should instead be thought of as the whole sea area between Novaya Zemlya and the Bering Strait. Due to the highly variable and difficult ice-conditions present along most of the NSR, the optimal route choice for vessels navigating the NSR will vary. Depending on seasonal, regional and annual variations in ice-cover, vessels will sometimes have to choose routes close to the mainland, other times routes through the many archipelagos, and sometimes routes north of them.

9 Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential 3 In this report, the term the NSR Area is often used. This implies the Northern Sea Route + adjacent land areas. The land areas in question are those parts of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Republic of Sakha, Krasnoyarsk Kray, and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug that face the Arctic Ocean or gravitates towards the NSR through the navigable rivers that flow into the Russian Arctic Ocean. As Russian administration and statistics strictly adhere to the above definition of the Northern Sea Route, this report will for practical reasons mainly focus on that area. Only where relevant and possible, will the report include information on conditions in the Barents Sea and other areas outside the NSR. The only case where an area not formally part of the NSR area has been included systematically into the study, is the case of the oil and gas regions in the Timan-Pechora Basin. The oil and gas fields in question are situated either offshore in the Pechora Sea (southeast Barents Sea) or on-land in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. They have been included into the study since they are potentially very large sources of cargo generation, and because the physical environment in this area shallow, ice-covered seas presents the same challenges for shipping as for areas formally inside the NSR. In the report, the terms Eastern NSR and Western NSR are also extensively used. The Western NSR is used to describe the part of NSR from Dikson westwards (including Dudinka and the Yenisey River), where the large majority of NSR economic activity is taking place today. The Eastern NSR denotes the areas between Dikson and the Bering Strait, where shipping and economic activities are very much lower than in the western part. In some of the statistics (for instance Annex A1), the terms Eastern and Western NSR are defined slightly differently, according to administrative borders: Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (A.O.) and the Republic of Sakha is grouped as Eastern NSR, while Krasnoyarsk Kray (including Taymyr A.O.) and Yamalo-Nenets A.O. is grouped as Western NSR. Thus, the Taymyr Peninsula east of Dikson is in the statistics part of the Western NSR, even though it should functionally be considered a part of the Eastern NSR. This inconsistency is not significant, as economic activity on the extremely barren Taymyr Peninsula is very low. 1.4 Legal, administrative and operational framework of NSR shipping NSR activities are centrally organised through the Ministry of Transport s Service of Marine Transport (SMT). Different NSR players such as NSR shipping companies, NSR ports, icesurveillance organisations etc. are integrated in the SMT system. The SMT is also responsible for organising the shipment of deliveries to the northern settlements. Russian legislation stipulate federal ownership of the main components of the NSR infrastructure: Icebreaking, emergency, salvage and hydrographic fleets, port facilities, navigational and hydrographic support for navigation safety, hydrometeorological service and radio communication facilities. These elements of the NSR are always to be under central management, even though they may be operated by others (as the state-owned NSR ice-breakers are for instance operated by Murmansk Shipping Company and Far Eastern Shipping Company). There are plans to reorganise the SMT into a Russian stock company RAO Sevmorput controlled by the state, but with participation from all major players, including the shipping companies, ports and main cargo-owners such as oil companies and the Norilsk Nickel Company, as well are regional authorities. At a later stage, foreign owner interests may also be allowed. The model is based on a condition that NSR cargo volumes increase to a level where the NSR infrastructure can become self-financing. The model is partly based on a

10 4 Claes Lykke Ragner Canadian model with the Canarctic company 3. Plans have not yet materialised, partly due to opposition from some of the concerned parties. Murmansk Shipping Company has been opposed the idea as unnecessary, and also the Russian Northern Fleet has voiced strong scepticism over the security implications of such steps which would make the NSR more open to foreign interests 4. The maintenance of NSR infrastructure is in principle to be financed by the users and NSR fees are in reality mandatory for all vessels entering the NSR. The fee depends on the season, on which part of the NSR is being navigated, on the vessel s size and on the nationality of its charterer (see Table 3.4). The fees cover icebreaking assistance, ice-forecasting and routing services. In the 1990s state subsidies of the Arctic transport system decreased while traffic plummeted, causing fees to increase sharply to cover running expenses for the icebreakers and other infrastructure. This caused further decrease of traffic volumes. Russian authorities have signalled increased subsidies from year 2000, aiming at reducing the fees to maximum 3-7 USD/grt, hoping thus to eventually increase traffic to 6-10 million tons per year, which would make the system self-financed. The overall supervision of NSR affairs is entrusted to the Northern Sea Route Administration (NSRA), which is an integrated part of the Russian Ministry of Transport. NSRA Headquarters are located in Moscow. Its main tasks include coordination of the activities of the Marine Operations Headquarters (see next paragraph) and NSR shipping companies, contact with potential cargo-owners, processing of applications for escort and working-out of NSR fee system (in co-operation with the shipping companies). Practical operational supervision of NSR traffic is carried out by the eastern and western Marine Operations Headquarters (MOHs), which are based in Pevek and Dikson respectively. The MOHs are subordinate to the NSRA, but are run by the Murmansk Shipping Company (Dikson) and the Far-Eastern Shipping Company (Pevek). A wide range of experts staff the MOHs, also including ice-monitoring experts. The dividing line of responsibility between the two MOHs are set at 125 east, i.e. just west of the Lena river mouth. In reality, when icebreakers of the Murmansk Shipping Company (MSCO) are active on the eastern NSR, they and the ships they are escorting are being supervised from the western MOH. The eastern MOH is only operating during the traditional navigational season, while the western MOH operates throughout the year, supervising the year-round Murmansk-Dudinka line. All vessels sailing on the NSR must strictly follow the orders of the MOHs in reality the vessels submit to constant control by the MOH throughout the entire voyage. The MOHs are responsible for pilotage, navigational support, organisation of convoys and ice-breaker assistance, and for designating optimum routes taking into consideration ice conditions and available icebreaker support. A ship is not allowed to deviate from a route without MOH permission, but revisions to this restriction and control might be considered in the future. The continued development of detailed (near) real-time ice information delivered directly to the vessel by satellite, could realistically enable vessels to execute local and tactical navigation on their own in the future 5. Communication between the MOHs and the vessels is presently only Y.M. Ivanov, A.P. Ushakov & A.N. Yakovlev (1998): Russian Administration of the Northern Sea Route Central or INSROP Working Paper, No RAO Sevmorput : bit ili nye bit, Polyarnaya Pravda 29 February L.W. Brigham, V.D. Grishchenko & K. Kamesaki (1999): The Natural Environment, Ice Navigation and Ship Technology in W. Østreng (ed.): The Natural and Societal Challenges of the Northern Sea Route. A Reference Work. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

11 Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential 5

12 6 Claes Lykke Ragner carried out in Russian language, which presents one of several practical obstacles to non- Russian vessels wishing to sail on the NSR. The present Russian regime for NSR shipping (as set out in the 1991 Regulations for Navigation on the Seaways of the NSR 6 ), are based on Article 234 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, under which a coastal state has the right to unilaterally adopt and enforce laws and environmental regulations in its exclusive economic zone where ice coverage causes exceptional hazards to navigation, and where the environment is especially vulnerable 7. The Russian regulations set out that all vessels wishing to enter the NSR (including all areas within Russian 200 n.m. exclusive economic zone) should notify this to the NSRA in beforehand, and also submit an application for ice-breaker escort. The application must contain information on guaranteed payment of NSR fees, and documentation of adequate insurance to cover environmental pollution damage. The vessel must also meet special iceclass requirements. There is also a range of minor technical requirements, including compatibility with the Russian ice-navigation technique of close towing, requiring increased strengthening in the bow and the ability to fasten towlines. Such requirements in fact exclude the use of vessels with bulb bow design. If the NSRA accepts the application for ice-breaker assistance, the vessel is obliged to follow the route determined by the MOH according to ice-conditions and available ice-breaker support. Normally, one or two ice-pilots will also have to be placed onboard, depending on the ice conditions and on the crew s ice experience. By accepting a vessel for escorting, the MOH in practice also grants the vessel automatic access to any Russian internal and territorial waters that the MOH-determined route leads through. The formal command chain for lescorting is as follows: NSRA MOH icebreaker ice pilot (on board the vessel) vessel 8. Compulsory icebreaker escort is mandated for passage through the Vilkitskiy, Dmitriy Laptev, Sannikov and Shokalskiy Straits under all circumstances. Russia maintains the right to board any vessel even in the exclusive economic zone when there are reasons to believe that the vessel does in fact not comply with the standards and rules mandated by Russia, or when it is feared that severe natural conditions may endanger the vessel or the marine environment. Vessels on the NSR must carry out any orders and follow the routes prescribed by the MOH. The MOH may suspend navigation at any time if there are concerns regarding safe navigation or environmental protection. Ships violating any provisions of the Regulations can be removed from the NSR by the MOH 9. Russia maintains that the NSR straits are internal Russian waters 10. This, along with the present regulations demanding permission to enter even the exclusive economic zone part of the NSR and the mandatory ice-breaker escort in the central NSR straits, in effect makes it impossible for vessels to ply any NSR route without the permission of Russian authorities, or The regulations can be found in the English-language Guide to Navigating Through the Northern Sea Route which is available from the Ministry of Transport, Hydrographic Department, Moskovskiy Pr. 12, St. Petersburg, Russia, tel/fax +7 (812) For a further discussion of the legal status of the NSR, see: Brubaker, R. Douglas and Willy Østreng (1999): The Northern Sea Route Regime: Exquisite Superpower Subterfuge?, Ocean Development & International Law, 30: A. Yakovlev, G. Semanov, Y. Ivanov, A. Ushakov, S. Zubarev, M. Gavrilo, V. Khlebovich, K.A. Moe, J. Thomassen & O.W. Brude (1999): Legal and Environmental Evaluation of the Routes Selected for the INSROP Simulation Study, INSROP Working Paper, No Brigham et al (1999). See A.L. Kolodkin, V.Yu. Markov & A.P. Ushakov (1997): Legal Regime of Navigation in the Russian Arctic, INSROP Working Paper, No. 94.

13 Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential 7 without paying NSR fees. While this may not be unreasonable strict enforcement of environmental standards is extremely important in the Arctic, and it will indeed be difficult to use the NSR without using the Russian infrastructure the Russian regulations are not universally accepted. On grounds of principle, the US as well as several non-russian INSROP experts have challenged Russia s claims. In the view of the US, the NSR straits should be considered international straits, with the implication that they may be used by foreign vessels for innocent passage without notification or application to the Russian authorities. Also, Russia s right to carry out inspections in the exclusive economic zone to ensure compliance with Russian regulations is being challenged vessels with sufficient ice-class and insurance coverage should be able to proceed without hindrance 11. At present, this dispute is more a legal one than a real one, as Russian authorities have signalled a flexible attitude towards foreign vessels wishing to use the route, and potential foreign users of the route are likely to comply with the Russian regulations, as they will depend on Russian ice-breaker escort. The only scenarios where such legal ambiguities may have practical implications, is if the US should take a confrontational line on this issue (forbidding American ships to use the straits and trying to pressure other states to take similar actions), or if in the future foreign cargo ships with high ice-breaking capability would like to venture through the NSR without Russian ice-breaker escort (and consequently without paying ice-breaker fees). At least one INSROP author has been advocating such a scenario as the only possible solution for commercially viable transit operations 12. However, building cargo-vessels that are able to operate independently of Russian infrastructure along the whole NSR is not commercially feasible without further considerable technological or climatic improvements. 1.5 The physical environment of NSR shipping The main physical constraints to NSR shipping are the shallow seas and straits along most parts of the route, and above all the difficult ice conditions. There are signs that ice-conditions are becoming slowly lighter, possibly due to climate change Shallow seas A distinct feature of the Russian Arctic is the shallowness of its seas. The shallowness creates at least three major problems for shipping: 1. The shallowness of the straits through the New Siberian Islands seriously limits the draft and size of ships that can use the whole NSR on a regular basis. The draft restrictions in Sannikov Strait is 12.5 m and in only 6.7 m in the Dmitriy Laptev Strait. By choosing a route north of the New Siberian Islands, this problem can be avoided, but ice-conditions are often prohibitively severe. In reality, vessels that are constructed to operate on the whole NSR on a regular basis will have to observe the 12.5 m draft restriction. 2. The shallowness of the coastal areas force deep-draft ships to choose routes far from the coast. This creates additional problems for larger ships, since ice conditions often are better close to the coast, where small islands and other local features may provide shelter from drifting ice See for instance E. Gold in his review of Yakovlev et al (1999); T.R. Ramsland (1999): Economic Evaluation of NSR INSROP Working Paper, No. 140; or D. Brubaker s discussion of the question in W. Østreng, A.L. Kolodkin, D. Brubaker & J.-L. Jernsletten (1999): Military, Political, Legal and Human Affairs, in W. Østreng (ed.): The Natural and Societal Challenges of the Northern Sea Route. A Reference Work. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers. T.R. Ramsland (1999): Economic Evaluation of NSR Commercial Shipping, INSROP Working Paper, No. 140.

14 8 Claes Lykke Ragner 3. The shallowness of the coastal areas and the Arctic ports seriously limits the size of ships that can call at Russian Arctic ports. Even with the existing standard class of Russian NSR cargo vessels the Norilsk (SA-15) class vessels the 9.0 m draft is too deep to proceed to quay in many of the NSR ports loading/unloading will have to take place by reloading to smaller vessels, or directly onto the ice. Another serious consequence is the inability of larger ships to seek shelter and repair in emergency situations. Draft restrictions and other particulars of the individual NSR ports are described later in the chapter Ice conditions Difficult ice-conditions often prohibit the use of the shortest route between two points, and lead to the need of expensive ice-breaker assistance. It also causes increased fuel expenses, damage to vessels, detours and reduced speeds. The ice-conditions vary greatly between the different parts of the NSR, and between seasons and years. Table 1.2 shows average percentage of ice-free regions during the summer months: Table 1.2: Summer ice-free regions of the Russian Arctic seas (average percentage of region s total area that is ice-free) 13 End of month Southwestern Kara Sea Northeastern Kara Sea Western Laptev Sea Eastern Laptev Sea Region Western East Siberian Sea Eastern East Siberian Sea Southwestern Chukchi Sea June July August September First of all, this shows that no parts of the NSR are completely ice-free even during the most favourable summer month (September). Secondly, this indicates that the areas at each end of the NSR the south-western Kara Sea and the south-western Chukchi Sea have the lightest ice-conditions (along with the Eastern Laptev Sea around the Lena river mouth), with the eastern East Siberian Sea having clearly the most difficult ice conditions. This corresponds with navigational experience, where the East Siberian Sea has been seen as the most difficult sea to navigate, and also being the main bottleneck for transit navigation. Other parts of the NSR have average ice-conditions. The reason for the difficult conditions in the East Siberian Sea is the mighty Ayonskiy Ice Massif, consisting of thick and hardened multiyear ice, and which often extends almost to shore even during summer due to currents and winds. See figure 1.2. Sailing during the winter season (November-May), is generally much more difficult than in the summer season, due to the thicker and more dense ice-cover. An important, special feature of winter navigation is the fast ice stable, immovable ice which is clinging to the coastline. Depending on the location of islands and sea depths, the fast ice may be extending up to 500 km from the Russian mainland. Fast ice is very difficult to pass through, and normally it is preferable to avoid it by using northerly routes. If off-shore winds prevail, one 13 S. Brestkin, A. Yulin, V. Karklin, I. Ashik, Z. Gudkovich, I. Karelin, S. Klyachkin, E. Makarov, E. Sapershtein, I. Sergeeva, V. Smolyanitskiy, K. Teitelbaum & S. Frolov (1998): Natural Conditions along the Selected Routes, INSROP Working Paper, No. 121.

15 Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential 9 will often during winter find open leads at the edge of the fast ice so called polynyas, which are very suitable for navigation. Typical location of fast ice and polynyas is illustrated in figure 1.3. Figure 1.2: General locations of summer ice massifs in the Russian maritime Arctic 14. Noted are three types of summer ice massifs: Multiyear ice from the Arctic Ocean (North Kara, Taymyr and Ayonskiy); local drift ice (Novaya Zemlya and Wrangel); and, fast ice remnants (Severnaya Zemlya, Yanskiy and New Siberian). Figure 1.3: Regions of winter fast ice and polynyas in the Russian Maritime Arctic 15. Polynyas: 1 Cheshskaya, 2 Pechora, 3- West Novaya Zemlya, 4 Victoria Sea, 5 Amderma, 6 Yamal, 7 Ob-Yenisey, 8 West Severnaya Zemlya, 9 East Severnaya Zemlya, 10 Taymyr, 11 Lena, 12 New Siberian, 13 Wrangel, 14 Alaska, 15 - Anadyr Reproduced from Brigham et al (1999). Reproduced from Brigham et al (1999).

16 10 Claes Lykke Ragner Again, it is clear that it is the Kara Sea that offers the easiest conditions for navigation. Here, the extension of the fast ice is normally small, but the existence of polynyas is also relatively normal. The only areas where polynyas are not often found, are the eastern East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea. This is again mainly due to currents pushing ice from the central Arctic Basin towards the coast, thus creating extremely difficult ice conditions. The fact that both Severnaya Zemlya and the New Siberian Islands normally become enveloped by the fast ice, will often force ships to choose a route north of these archipelagos, routes which may expose the ships to extremely harsh ice conditions, in addition to being a detour. Under normal conditions, winter navigation along the eastern NSR will never be profitable, and commercial operations will be restricted to the summer season. The summer season has traditionally been defined as June-October, but technological improvements have gradually allowed an extended summer season, with navigation until December in years of favourable ice-conditions. Today, it is only shipping on the Dudinka-Murmansk line that operates on a year-round basis. All other transport is carried out only during summer Climatic change While there have also recently been years of extremely difficult ice-conditions on the NSR (for instance 1998), a growing number of reliable research reports indicate that the polar ice cap is shrinking at an unprecedented rate, and some research reports indicate that the pace is dramatic. Recent research has shown that the ice thickness in the Central Arctic Ocean has been reduced by 15% per decade since , and that the extent of multi-year ice has been reduced by 14% in the period If these trends continue, the entire Arctic Ocean will become ice-free during summer before the end of this century. This would change fundamentally the conditions for and prospects of shipping on the NSR, even though no detailed research into this particular question has been made Rothrock, D.A., Y. Yu, and G.A. Maykut (1999): Thinning of the Arctic Sea-Ice Cover, Geophysical Research Letters, 26, 23: Johannessen, O.M., E.V. Shalina, and M. Miles (1999): Satellite Evidence for an Arctic Ice Cover in Transfor Science, 286:

17 Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential 11 2 Historic and Actual NSR Freight Flows The annual volumes of cargo transported along the NSR have varied widely. Prior to the 1930s cargo volumes were modest, but under Stalin large programmes to exploit the Russian Arctic s natural resources were initiated, and the NSR developed into a transport corridor for import of industrial supplies and export of natural resources. The 2nd World War saw a further increase in volumes, caused by increased mining, relocation of industry and a shift to seaborne supplies to Northern Siberia in order to release capacity on the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) for military cargoes 18. For a long time after the war, the general trend was a continued slow but steady growth in transport volumes, which reached a peak in 1987 with 6.58 mln tons. From then on, cargo volumes decreased sharply, and since 1996, they have hovered around mln tons annually. NSR overall cargo volumes for the years are presented in table 2.1. In table 2.2, NSR cargo volumes for the 1990s have been broken down into the various transport directions import, export, transit and different kinds of cabotage (internal sea transport). Data for the peak year 1987 has been included for reference. In table 2.3, a detailed breakdown of foreign trade in the 1990s is made, and in table 2.4, cargo flows through eastern and western NSR ports are compared. Figures in tables all refer to the formal definition of the NSR, confined by Novaya Zemlya in the west and the Bering Strait in the east. A weakness with this cargo statistics is that it does not take into consideration how long distance the cargo is transported. A ton of cargo carried between two neighbouring ports, and a ton carried in transit, counts equally much. 2.1 Transport directions As can be seen from table 2.2, the overall reduction of NSR cargo volumes has been considerable (76%), with none of the transport directions spared. Import to the region from abroad and from the Russian Pacific coast has almost halted, and transit traffic is again down to zero. The least dramatic reduction is seen on export Cabotage import from other regions of Russia The contraction of the Russian economy in the 1990s made it impossible for the Russian State to maintain the previously high level of subsidies towards the Arctic transport system, leading to a sharp decline in non-commercial deliveries of fuel, foodstuffs and other basic commodities to the Russian Arctic settlements. In addition, the disintegration of the Soviet economic system has slowed down or closed down many important economic activities in the Arctic, such as mining and oilfield development. Coupled with a considerable population outflow, this has also led to a reduced need for shipping provisions to the Arctic. Another notable trend is that while 40-50% of the deliveries previously came in from eastern Russia prior to 1994, almost all deliveries are now coming in from western Russia, i.e. mainly from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. This trend was brought to an extreme in 1998, when only 0.6% of deliveries were brought in from eastern Russia. In 1999, this figure was 4.4%. 18 Bulatov, Vladimir (1997): Historical and Current Uses of the Northern Sea Route. Part IV: The Administration of the INSROP Working Paper, 84.

18 12 Claes Lykke Ragner Table 2.1: Total cargo volumes transported along the NSR, , million tons 19 Year: Volume: 0,44 0,96 2,98 4,95 6,58 5,51 4,80 3,91 2,97 2,30 2,36 1,64 1,95 1,46 1,58 Table 2.2: Dynamics and directions of NSR cargo shipment, , thousand tons Change Cabotage import to NSR ports, of which % - from west Russian ports % - from east Russian ports % Cabotage export from NSR ports % Intra-Arctic cabotage % Foreign trade, of which: - import - export % % % Transit % Total volume of shipments % Compiled by the author from: M. Tamvakis, A. Granberg & E. Gold (1999) Economy and Commercial viability in W. Østreng (ed.): The Natural and Societal Challenges of the Northern Sea Route. A Reference Work. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, p. 225; Northern Sea Route Administration (2000), Ob yem arkticheskikh perevozok morskim transportom v gg. (The Volume of Arctic Sea Transport ). Moscow: Northern Sea Route Administration, unpublished memo, p. 1; with preliminary 1999 figures from A.G. Granberg, personal communication, August Ibid.

19 Northern Sea Route Cargo Flows and Infrastructure Present State and Future Potential 13 Table 2.3: Foreign import/export to/from the NSR ports , thousand tons Total exports, of which timber from Igarka ? - timber from Tiksi ? - non-ferrous metals from Dudinka ? - nickel matte from Dudinka ?? - sulphur from Dudinka gas condensate from Yenisey/Ob/Yamal ? - coal from Sakha (Kolyma) ? - metal scrap from Sakha/Dudinka/N.Zemlya 16.2??? ? Total imports, of which coal to N. Zemlya from Poland pipes to Ob Bay / Lower Yenisey ???? a - to Dudinka ?? 4.1? - to Pevek (mostly fuel) ? - to Tiksi??? 4.0? - to Mys Shmidta (mostly fuel) ? a One shipment reported Japan-Dudinka. Volume unknown. Table 2.4: Comparison of cargo flows through ports of the western and eastern NSR, 1998, thousand tons 22 Western NSR a Eastern NSR a Whole NSR Cabotage import to NSR ports from W. Russian ports Cabotage import to NSR ports from E. Russian ports Cabotage export from NSR ports to other Russian regions Intra-Arctic cabotage Foreign export Foreign import Total NSR port turnover a Western NSR is here defined as the western Kara Sea, including Dikson, Dudinka and the Yenisey River. Eastern NSR is the stretch between Dikson and the Bering Strait Compiled by the author from Tamvakis et al. (1999): p. 226; A. Granberg, G. Kobylkovsky & V. Plaksin (1999): Cargoforming Potential of Sakha (Yakutia), Chukot Autonomous District and other Far-Eastern Regions for the Northern Sea Route. INSROP Working Paper, No. 135, p. 12; V. Pavlenko & A. Yakovlev (1999): Impact of the Northern Sea Route and the Lensky Riverine Steamship Line Functioning on the Socio-Economic Situation and Development of Sakha Republic (Yakutia). INSROP Working Paper, No. 149, p. 8; Annex A2; Northern (2000): p.1; Frank, Sergey O. (2000): International Shipping on the Northern Sea Route Russia s Perspective, in Claes Lykke Ragner, ed., The 21 st Century Turning Point for the Northern Sea Route? Dordrecht/Boston/ London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000, p. 9; with preliminary 1999 figures from A.G. Granberg, personal communication, August Aggregated by the author from annex A2.

20 14 Claes Lykke Ragner Cabotage export to other regions of Russia Cabotage export is dominated by one single trade, namely the transport of non-ferrous ores from Dudinka to Murmansk, originating from the Norilsk mines and destined for the Kola Peninsula smelter industry. Volumes have decreased steadily in the 1990s, but since 1996 this has been partly compensated by increased export of processed non-ferrous metals from Dudinka to Western Europe. The trade started in 1968 and has been carried out on a yearround basis since Intra-Arctic cabotage Intra-Arctic cabotage covers shipments along the Lena and Kolyma Rivers to points located between Khatanga and Mys Shmidta. This involves mainly cargo arriving by railway to the port of Osetrovo on the Lena River, as well as local freight (mostly coal) on the Kolyma River. Since 1994 intra-arctic cabotage has dramatically decreased, even though a slight upturn has been seen since 1997, as modest distribution of coal from the Kolyma to locations along the eastern NSR has resumed Foreign import. Import to the NSR area all but ceased in the 1990s, and now only consists of various minor, incidental deliveries. In 1997 the import consisted of 25,900 tons of deliveries to Mys Shmidta and 8,400 tons to Pevek (see table 2.3) the majority oil products from USA and Western Europe. In 1998 and 1999, volumes were even smaller. This is most of all caused by the reduced level of industrial activities in the Russian north, not least the reduced pace of development of gas resources in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (A.O.). In the 1980s, this trade represented several hundred thousand tons annually Foreign export. Export is the transport direction that has dropped least only 49.2%. While timber export has been reduced by almost 95%, this has been partly compensated by a more than doubling of export of nickel and other non-ferrous metals via Dudinka to ports in Western Europe. In 1998, 78.2% of foreign export from NSR ports consisted of non-ferrous metals from Dudinka, while timber export only represented 7.5% (see table 2.3). The remainder of 1998 export consisted mostly of another rising cargo segment: gas condensate from the Yenisey, Ob Bay and Yamal areas (10.9%) Transit Since 1997, transit cargo volumes have returned to zero. In the Soviet era almost no commercial transit sailings took place, even though some passages were made by military vessels. Then, in 1989, transit volumes suddenly grew, due to the grossly undervalued rouble that allowed dollar-earning Russian shipowners to make substantial profits in terms of roubles, even with low freight tariffs. In 1991, 15 transits totalling 176,200 tons of cargo took place 24. Transit traffic further increased to a peak in 1993 when 208,000 tons were carried. After 1993 freight terms gradually worsened (including a fall in the real purchasing power of See annexes A1 and A2. A. Yakovlev, G. Semanov, Y. Ivanov, A. Ushakov, S. Zubarev, M. Gavrilo, V. Khlebovich, K.A. Moe, J. Thomassen & O.W. Brude (1999): Legal and Environmental Evaluation of the Routes Selected for the INSROP Simulation Study, INSROP Working Paper, No. 128.

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